The first time I went to Planned Parenthood I was about 17. I didn’t think that I knew everything, but I thought I knew exactly what I was ready to handle. They continued to be my primary resource for healthcare until I was 30. When I look back on that 13-year stretch of my life there are many memories that make me cringe.
How did I survive?
What the hell was I thinking?
Was I even thinking?
The thing I never considered before this last year of political improbability was what if Planned Parenthood hadn’t been there for me. I certainly think about what will happen if my daughters don’t have it as a resource. The time it took for toddler Amanda to grow to a mom of tweens happened faster than I ever imagined.
I remember going in for an annual exam. I was barely twenty. It had been several years since I was sexually assaulted, but I still couldn’t make it through an exam without silently weeping, tears pooling in my ears.
“Are you ok?” the doctor asked me.
I nodded, my nose stinging.
“Are you in pain?” She said gently.
“No. I just hate this.”
She worked swiftly and quietly when she was done she patted the side of my calf. “You’re all done.”
I sat up awkwardly.
“No one likes these exams, but it’s so important that you do them,” she said. I nodded and tried to stifle my sniffles. “Were you assaulted?”
“You are brave and strong. Don’t forget that. I’ll let you get dressed now,” and she slipped out the door.
I needed to hear those words, but she didn’t need to say them. Those words helped me, and I don’t just mean that they made me feel ok about myself. What that doctor said was literally the difference between bailing on all manner of professional health care and having a place where I felt safe and worthy to be seen.
Planned Parenthood cared for me and protected me and my future in ways I didn’t yet know how to do for myself. It’s why I am using this space to speak out against the AHCA and the “defunding” of Planned Parenthood. We need voices for women and the LGBTQ community, specifically their health and well-being.
But what if…
What if Planned Parenthood weren’t here, not for some person in the middle of a place you don’t know, but for me, someone whose story you have come here to read. Would it matter? Is there a George Bailey side to this?
I’ve been reading a lot about “stealthing” and while we may not have had a term for it twenty years ago, it did exist.
Wrangling my girls each morning, counting lunch boxes, checking bags, my heart skips a beat when I think of what might have happened, where I’d be without PP.
I would still meet up with the boyfriend who penetrated me without my consent and shushed me into believing it was ok, “We were going to get there eventually. It’s no big deal.” He disregarded my insistence on a condom, bullied me into things I didn’t want to do. Without Planned Parenthood I would not be with these girls. I would not be their mom, or Sean’s wife, or maybe even here at all.
I would have been tricked into pregnancy in my twenties. I would not have found people who would treat me without question or judgment, but more than that, I would have gone too long without seeing someone or being seen. I would have written it (me!) off as not being something that I could manage—too hard, too expensive, too complicated, too intimidating.
I was a “smart girl” from a “good home,” but it can be easy to fall through the cracks, particularly with elected officials who aren’t advocating for you, who in fact are pretending as if you don’t exist or matter. Really none of that should matter, we should all have the care, counsel, and guidance that we need to make informed choices about our health.
It’s why when Planned Parenthood calls I answer, I fight for a world with Planned Parenthood.
I was not one of the most vulnerable, but as I stand today, a mom to three daughters, a survivor, and a resolute believer in the importance of Planned Parenthood, I #StandWithPP for those most threatened by the potential loss of Planned Parenthood.
Please call your Senator, speak to your neighbors, your children, your partner, and even yourself. This isn’t a little thing, Planned Parenthood can be the single greatest safety net for women and their health.
The American Health Care Act is the worst bill for women’s health in a generation. Cherry picking just one way in which the bill hurts women:
Reduces women’s access to no-copay birth control. While the bill does not specifically repeal the no-copay birth control benefit, the fact that millions of women will lose coverage means they will no longer have access to no-copay birth control. Under the ACA, more than 55 million women gained access to no-copay birth control in the private insurance market, and approximately 16.7 million women benefit from Medicaid coverage, which also covers birth control at no cost. Paying out-of-pocket for birth control pills can cost a woman up to $600 per year, which is simply unaffordable for many young women and people with low incomes. A recent poll found that 33 percent of women could not afford to pay more than $10 for birth control.
This post is made possible with support from the Mission List. All opinions are my own.
Tagged: daughters, health, planned parenthood, politics
What a candid and convincing post. Thank you for sharing your “what if” message.
Thank you! And thank you for sharing it on twitter!
Tax payer funded death squads, no thanks….
Matt, Thanks for swinging by. Your rather flip comment wildly generalizes and discounts the very legitimate right women have to be in control of their bodies.
Planned Parenthood does not work that way. The Hyde Amendment prevents the organization from being compensated by the government for abortion services other than in cases of rape.
The majority of federal funds come through Planned Parenthood health centers via reimbursements for the medical services that they provide to patients who either have Medicaid coverage or qualify for other publicly funded health care programs (like Title X).
Planned Parenthood serves 1.5 million of Title X’s over 4 million patients each year, helping people who often don’t have access to family planning care anywhere else. Without Planned Parenthood, many of these patients wouldn’t get the health care they need to take control of their lives.
Such a powerful posting. And excellent response to Matt. Gross misunderstanding of the role of PP in communities. Don’t like abortion? Fine. Support PP. Over and over again, studies show ready access to contraception reduces the abortion rate, Colorado being the most recent large scale reckoning. Restriction of access to family planning services disproportionately affects the young, poor, and disenfranchised, and always has, Why there is a conservative disconnect to these facts is beyond me.
The current silly plan involves shifting PP services to community health centers. As part of that system, I guarantee that 1) we can’t handle that volume, 2) we can’t do it as well as PP, 3) there are many communities that don’t have access to a CHC.
Women have, should, and will seek control of their reproductive health. We can facilitate this and grow healthy and empowered citizens, or continue constructing barriers that both reinforce and expand poverty and marginalization.
Such a beautifully heartwarming post. You’re right though. We really do need Planned Parenthood so that those who can’t afford anywhere else have somewhere to go.
Thank you for sharing beautifully and candidly as ever in support of this critical organization.
Thank you for thinking of me and for being so generous with how you help us all step to advocacy.
Love you so much. And this is so important. I hope I do not have to stand on a corner forever fighting over and over again for PP.
The current administration is doing 0 for women. We need to stand together and share stories like this.